BEESANDS VILLAGE

 

 

Image of Beesands

For a thousand years and more, working fishermen have put to sea from the beaches of Start Bay.

Early documents have many references to their activities on the coast, where they had their stores, fish cellars, drying grounds and workshops. But in the earlier centuries their homes were always a little inland, at places such as Beeson, for there was constant danger of raiders from the sea.

A pirate raider, Henry Muge, was hanged At Start Point as late as 1581, but by that time the great Elizabethan and Devonian mariners such as Drake, Frobisher and Hawkins were asserting England's sea power and it was becoming safer to live on the coast. The first recorded reference to a house at Beesands seems to be that on 6 July 1588 John Player of Beeson broke into a fisherman's home at Beesands and stole hand lines and nets, for which he was put in the stocks, and whipped.

By 1803, when the first Ordnance Survey map was made, there were half-a-dozen houses shown at the southern end of Beesands. By the time of the 1841 census Beesands and Beesands Cellars had 104 men, women and children living in 17 houses.

From this time onwards the fishing industry in Beesands increasingly flourished. Towards the end of the century there were dozens of boats operating off Beesands beach. Six to eight tons of crabs went to Billingsgate market each week during the summer: mackerel was sent to London and Bristol: other fish, including conger eels and cod caught on long lines during the autumn, had a local sale. The community was prospering.

The 1885 Ordnance Survey map shows about 30 houses, with an inn, a public house and a letter box. There is also shown, for the very first time, a "Church Mission Room". The story of St Andrew's Church had begun.

The passing of years have been eventful for Beesands. They have seen, for example, the decay of the local commercial fishing industry, the rise of the holiday trade, and a terrible storm of January 1979 which threatened the whole community. In the late 1980's early 1990's a new sea wall was built to protect the village and many thousands of tons of rocks were put in place along the line of the high tide stretching beyond the sea wall to Beesands cellars. Although recent storms have caused some more erosion of the coast.

Today a little fishing is still carried out - and highly successful too - it is still served by a local 'pub'  'The Cricket Inn' but the small community now relies heavily upon tourism for its survival. Recently the southern end of the sea wall has been extended to further protect that end of the village.

Image of Beesands Ley

Beesands Ley from the road to Beeson

Inland we find the settlements of Kellaton and Beeson each with their own characteristics and attraction.

Image of Beeson Village

Beeson Village


 

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